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Documents on enforcement and compliance practices

Following oversight hearings on November 3, 2011, before the Subcommittee on Elections of the House of Representatives Committee on House Administration, the Commission released a number of documents relating to the enforcement and compliance processes.

The Commission has worked to further transparency and is pleased to advance this agency goal by making these internal documents available to the public.

The documents fall into three categories; each category is located in a different section on this page:

  • Enforcement documents
  • Reports Analysis Division documents
  • Audit Division documents

None of the documents made public in this collection bind the Commission, nor do they create substantive or procedural rights.

Enforcement documents

Enforcement Manual 1997

1997_enforcement_manual.pdf | PDF

Additional Enforcement Materials

additional_enforcement_materials.pdf | PDF

Letter from Commission to Committee on House Administration (July 25, 2013)

letter_to_Committee_on_House_Administration_July_25_2013.pdf | PDF

The 1997 enforcement manual and additional enforcement materials were compiled as internal guidance to Office of General Counsel (“OGC”) staff. These materials are not a definitive or binding set of procedures, and were neither reviewed nor adopted by the Commission.

In May 2012, the Commission updated the “Guidebook for Complainants and Respondents on the FEC Enforcement Process” to reflect new enforcement-related policies adopted by the Commission. For current information on these topics, please refer to the Guidebook for Complainants and Respondents.

More recently, the Commission has adopted various policies designed to provide the public with additional information about the way the Commission makes decisions and operates, along with providing respondents with certain procedural safeguards. These policies were adopted in public and are available on the Policy and other guidance web page.

Enforcement Manual (dated November 1997)

This is an internal manual, much of which was compiled in 1997 by the Enforcement Division of OGC. This document has not been formally updated, and much of the information it contains has been superseded. The 1997 manual contains seven chapters, each addressing a different stage of the enforcement process as it existed over 20 years ago. The 1997 manual is organized to reflect the sequence of the enforcement process, beginning with the processing of complaints and referrals, and ending with a description of closeout procedures for Matters Under Review ("MURs"). It also contains a number of addenda addressing specific issues, as well as a guide on troubleshooting and proofreading documents.

Additional Enforcement Materials

Also provided is a set of materials relating to certain historical enforcement procedures and practices. The collection, initiated in 1986 and compiled periodically, includes documents that might serve as reminders or guidance for Enforcement Division staff on a variety of substantive and procedural aspects of their work. The types of documents in this collection include emails, internal memoranda, summaries of Commission sessions and staff meetings, and Commission-approved procedures and directives. Like the 1997 manual, these materials reference past, non-binding practices and informal guidance within the agency. Enforcement staff do not routinely refer to these materials.

Included in these materials is a chart entitled "Calculating Opening Settlement Offers for Non-Knowing and Willful Violations." This chart is a compilation prepared by OGC memorializing the base formulas used by the Commission, to varying degrees in the past, to calculate opening settlement offers in individual enforcement MURs. OGC created the chart as a means to provide consistency between its recommendations to the Commission and the Commission’s previous formal votes in other similar MURs. Depending on the circumstances of the matter, OGC has recommended, and the Commission has authorized, penalties either higher or lower than those set forth in the chart. The information in the chart reflects past opening settlement offers, not amounts that result after negotiations with a respondent. The Commission makes final settlement amounts public by placing approved Conciliation Agreements on its website.

Reports Analysis Division documents

The Commission is also releasing the document the Reports Analysis Division (“RAD”) uses in conducting its regular review of disclosure reports filed with the Commission. This document contains the procedures by which RAD conducts its regular review of reports filed by political committees and other filing entities, and by which it refers potential violations of the reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended for possible enforcement action, whether through OGC, the Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution, or the Administrative Fine Program.

This document is revised every two years, corresponding with the election cycle, and is submitted to and ultimately approved by the Commission. The document is being provided in redacted form to protect the confidentiality of certain information concerning the Commission’s thresholds for taking particular actions.

Reports Analysis Division Review and Referral Procedures for the 2019-2020 Election Cycle Procedures: Unauthorized Committees, Title 52 Authorized Committees and Title 26 Authorized Committees

2019-2020 election cycle RAD review and referral procedures | PDF

Reports Analysis Division Review and Referral Procedures for the 2017-2018 Election Cycle: Unauthorized Committees, Title 52 Authorized Committees and Title 26 Authorized Committees

2017-2018_RAD_review_and_referral_procedures.pdf | PDF

Reports Analysis Division Review and Referral Procedures for the 2015-2016 Election Cycle: Unauthorized Committees, Title 52 Authorized Committees and Title 26 Authorized Committees

2015-2016_RAD_review_and_referral_procedures.pdf | PDF

Reports Analysis Division Review and Referral Procedures for the 2013-2014 Election Cycle: Unauthorized Committees, Title 2 Authorized Committees and Title 26 Authorized Committees

2013-2014_RAD_review_and_referral_procedures.pdf | PDF

Reports Analysis Division Review and Referral Procedures for the 2011-2012 Election Cycle: Unauthorized Committees, Title 2 Authorized Committees and Title 26 Authorized Committees

2011-2012_RAD_review_and_referral_procedures.pdf | PDF

In addition, more information is available on the "Reports Analysis Division FAQ" web page.

Audit Division documents

The Commission is releasing audit documents that contain the materiality thresholds by which the Audit Division determines if an issue is significant enough to warrant inclusion as a finding in an audit report and is subsequently referable for possible enforcement action, whether through the Office of General Counsel, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, or the Administrative Fine Program.

2017-2018 Materiality Thresholds - Authorized Committees

2017-2018_authorized_materiality_thresholds.pdf | PDF

2017-2018 Materiality Thresholds - Unauthorized Committees

2017-2018_unauthorized_materiality_thresholds.pdf | PDF

2015-2016 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Authorized Committees

2016 Authorized materiality thresholds redacted for public release | PDF

2015-2016 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Unauthorized Committees

2016 Unauthorized materiality thresholds redacted for public release.pdf | PDF

2016 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Title 26 Presidential Candidates

2016_audit_materiality_thresholds_title_26_presidential.pdf | PDF

2013-2014 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Authorized Committees

2013-2014_audit_materiality_thresholds_title_52_authorized.pdf | PDF

2013-2014 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Unauthorized Committees

2013-2014_audit_materiality_thresholds_title_52_unauthorized.pdf | PDF

2011-2012 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Authorized Committees

2011-2012_audit_materiality_thresholds_title_2_authorized.pdf | PDF

2011-2012 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Unauthorized Committees

2011-2012_audit_materiality_thresholds_title_2_unauthorized.pdf | PDF

2012 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Title 26 Presidential Candidates and Convention Committees

2012_audit_materiality_thresholds_title_26_presidential.pdf | PDF

2009-2010 Materiality Thresholds - Authorized Committees

2009-2010_audit_materiality_thresholds_title_2_authorized.pdf | PDF

2009-2010 Materiality Thresholds - Unauthorized Committees

2009-2010_audit_materiality_thresholds_title_2_unauthorized.pdf | PDF

2008 Cycle Materiality Thresholds - Title 26 Presidential Candidates and Convention Committees

2008_audit_materiality_thresholds_title26_presidential.pdf | PDF

Each Title 52 document is updated every two years and each Title 26 document is updated every four years, corresponding with the election cycle, and approved by the Commission. The documents are being provided in redacted form to protect the confidentiality of certain information concerning the Commission’s thresholds for taking particular action.

In addition, more information is available in the "The Audit Process–What to Expect" brochure.

Contact information

If you have questions or seek further information about the Enforcement Division documents, please contact Stephen Gura, Deputy Associate General Counsel-Enforcement, at ogcenforcement@fec.gov.

For questions about the RAD Procedures, please contact Debbie Chacona, Assistant Staff Director, RAD, at rad@fec.gov. If you represent a committee or another entity registered with the FEC and you have a specific reporting question related to your organization, use the RAD contact form to submit a question to the campaign finance analyst assigned to your committee.

For questions about the Audit Division documents, please contact Dayna Brown, Acting Assistant Staff Director, Audit Division, at audit@fec.gov.